During his three tumultuous years in Chicago, Cedric Benson was labeled a malcontent, an underachiever, and a first-round bust. And that was before he was arrested for boating while intoxicated last summer.
The Bears released him shortly after the incident and Benson spent the first month of the NFL season on his couch waiting for the phone to ring. That's how long it took the Bengals to come to the realization that Chris Perry couldn't handle the starting gig.
In five games, Benson has managed just 3.7 yards per carry, but the bulk of his 241 yards came yesterday against the Jaguars. He racked up 104 yards on 24 carries, including his first touchdown of the season.
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And while it's still not clear if he's the long-term answer for Cincinnati, Benson seems to have learned something from his experience in Chicago:
"Unbelievable character," said left guard Andrew Whitworth. "Here's a guy that comes in here, people gave him a hard time in Chicago, he said he was sorry and he showed it. He's been here every day working his tail off. He's got a great attitude, he's never complained about one thing. We probably didn't move guys as well as we should have when he first got here. He never complained. He put his head down and just ran hard. He's (offered) to take us to eat. He's been there for the offensive line and we finally showed up for him today."
Good for Benson. It's sometimes hard to see the big picture when you're in your early 20s and suddenly worth millions of dollars. I get that. But unlike so many NFL players who get second and third chances, it sounds like Benson fully understands that this could be his last opportunity to make a living running full speed into fat dudes while wearing a funny get up.
I'd just suggest he steer clear of Chris Henry, however; nothing good comes from hanging out with that guy.
It Took Coming to Cincy for Cedric Benson to Appreciate What It Means to Play in NFL originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Mon, 03 Nov 2008 18:42:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.